Soon after the introduction of tobacco at the end of the 16th century the manufacture of clay smoking pipes became established throughout the country. By about 1620 the clay potters and mug makers of Rainford had taken up this new trade, at first using clay dug locally but after 1700 using the finer whitefiring clay brought by sea from Devon & Cornwall


Many of the early pipemakers combined the trade with farming but it is recorded that in 1696 twenty Rainford families were dependent upon pipe making for their livelihood. By the end of the 17th century Rainford had become well established as an important regional centre distributing its pipes over a wide area of the north west and beyond.

Randle Brook Pipe Works

The next century saw a decline in the industry nationally but the Rainford makers continued to prosper. By the middle of the 19th century production was at its peak with about 120 men and women employed in the industry, working mainly in small workshops throughout the village which had gradually superseded the farm based works of the 17th century.  

 The introduction of the briar pipe, and later the cigarette, gradually reduced demand for the traditional clay pipes and the number of pipeshops fell from 14 in 1841 to 7 in 1883. A few of these works survived into the 20th century but one by one they ceased to operate and the last Rainford pipes were made at D. Swallow & Co.'s Hill Top Works in 1956.


Pasture Lane Pipe Works
   Hill Top Pipe Works